The Joys and Challenges of Establishing the Office for Scholarly Communication at Kent

On June 5th, I turned up at the Library ready to start in a new role, in a new office – excited and a little daunted at the list of things that I now had to think about. As more institutions are thinking about how the Scholarly Communication process is managed, here are the things I have learned over the last four months.

A little history

The Office for Scholarly Communication at Kent was set up with a joint reporting line – directly to the Assistant Director, Library Collections and with a dotted line to the Director of Research Services, to actively support academic staff by bringing together Research Office and Library functions.
The Office for Scholarly Communication builds on the substantial work already in place to support research and research communication at the University of Kent. Thanks to the evolution of these services, and the work done in advocacy, Kent has substantial support for scholarly communication, particularly the Kent Academic Repository and Open Access, measuring the sharing and impact of research through bibliometrics and altmetric tools, and the launch of the Kent Data Repository.
The OSC is the next step in this evolution of the research support at Kent.


It takes hundreds of people to make the process of Scholarly Communication work well at an institution. One of the very best bits of this role, is the many, many fantastic people I get to work with on a daily basis. Working across teams within IS, central service departments, academic faculties, schools and research centres, I work with committed, enthusiastic and knowledgeable people. There are the obvious people and teams (see our partners), but also finance, web development, user experience, publishing and image library guru’s without whom the OSC would have got nowhere fast.


One of the very best bits of my jobs is hearing researchers talk about their research – supporting people who are excited by what they do on a daily basis is a privilege.


“Nothing comes from nothing….”

Prior to the OSC, there were two separate groups – the Publications Advisory Board and the Open Access Steering Group, both of which were finalised as the OSC was born. Information Services also has a reporting and decision making process (through Information Services Board) and Research Services has one through Research and Innovation Board. The OSC submits reports to Library Management Group, IT Management Group, ISB and RIB.
The OSC has an internal board, consisting of those with stakeholder interest in the OSC, highlighting current challenges and frustrations among stakeholder groups – see here for more about the internal board. We have also established an external advisory group who have a light touch advisory capacity. It is a very broad range of experts in scholarly communication, with a global perspective – a sounding board to bounce ideas off, giving a range of perspectives.

How much ‘Department’ matters.

This is covered a little under ‘Governance’ – Kent is a collegiate institution, everything from website, to sharepoint, to electronic, to processes for booking travel, conferences and how the paperwork for RPD (appraisal) is dealt with as agreed within the department.


Having a direct line within Information services, and a dotted line to research services some things were straightforward (who signs off annual leave) where others (appraisal) were more complicated and others were actively challenging (where does the OSC website sit?). Much of the first couple of months setting up the OSC involved many discussions and consideration of questions that don’t arise in a traditional reporting structure – where do shared documents go? Do we have a shared email? Does this complement or replace existing shared email? Who has access to which documents? How are the strategic aims of Information Services and Research Services incorporated into the OSC?

Where to start?

Scholarly communication is such a new field, with so many different approaches, so many organisations involved in different aspects and so many mailing lists to sign up for, there is a wealth of comprehensive information and events available.


I am incredibly grateful to the many, many people  who have talked to me about the challenges they have faced in their institutions, who have hosted me and who have forwarded their resources to me.